Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Real Men Race Bicycles

That's me on the right, white sleeves w/ yellow trim
Don't worry (to the extent that you would even do so), I'm not giving up triathlon.  In fact, I registered for the Solana Beach Sprint Triathlon in July today.  Solana Beach was the first race I ever did, and I'm excited to go back for the 3rd time.  I'll also be registering for September's Big Kahuna 1/2 Iron Triathlon in Santa Cruz as early as tomorrow - I just need to sort out a scheduling thing.

But, I did my second criterium last night at El Dorado Park in Long Beach and I must say it was extremely awesome.  Since it was the second time I raced, I was more relaxed.  And since I was more relaxed, I had more time to take in what was going on.  There is no doubt going 25 + MPH on a bicycle in a tight pack is thrilling.  Not that racing in triathlon isn't thrilling, because it is.  But my initial impression of bicycle racing is that the thrill is more immediate.  Also, bicycle racing (especially criteriums) are more tactical than triathlon.  Again, it's not that triathlon isn't tactical - it certainly can be.  But criteriums by their nature are tactical propositions every minute of the entire race.

The training benefits are enormous.  As TRI714 rightfully points out, racing in a criterium is probably THE best interval workout you can get on a bike.  Think about it - guys are constantly attacking off the front and the rest of the peleton immediately reacts by speeding up to chase them down.  These attacks happen constantly over the course of the race.  So we'll be cruising along at 24 or 25 MPH, an attack will go off the front and we are all suddenly chasing, hitting speeds in excess 30 MPH for a few minutes.  This is hard.  Eventually, the break is caught and we all slow down until it starts all over again.  I don't know about you guys, but I couldn't achieve this kind of intensity riding alone.  And it's doubtful that all but the most intense Saturday morning group rides are this fast.  Jeff Irvin would love this, and I now completely understand the concept of pro cyclists racing their way into form.

Me, left.  A grimace, not a smile.
Doing this second race was definitely a new high water mark for my cycling.  First off, I finished right in the thick of the lead pack - stronger than last week.  So this perhaps suggests that my decent finish at the first race was not a fluke.  Secondly, and as I mentioned earlier, I was more relaxed.  So I was able to take in more of what was going on, watch what other riders where doing and keep my head in the race.

And as I speculated might happen in a post last week, I made it to the front of the pack last night.  Just up the course from where the picture on the left was taken (though I don't know if it was on this lap) someone attacked, so I reacted by shooting off along the outside.  Almost immediately I realized I was alone about 50 feet in front of the peleton and about 50 feet behind the attack.  I was both surprised and confused as to why I was alone as I assumed we'd all attack.  While I was processing this information, I must have "blinked" and slowed down, becauase within a few seconds I was overtaken.  I shouldn't have blinked and I should have kept going.  Clearly I'm not quite a real man just yet.

We covered 24.1 miles in an hour and two minutes.  My Garmin showed an average speed of 23.4 MPH (though we where running neutral for a lap and a half) and a top speed of 41.5 MPH.  You can check out the ride details here on strava.com.  By the way, strava.com is awesome and anyone who rides should check it out.

One last thing.  I never got a chance to tell my triathlon joke in the peleton.  Last night's race was a little more serious than last week.  Next time....

17 comments:

JenniferLeah said...

it's always great to try new things and it's cool that you are diggin' the crits! Love the pics--I think it's cool :D

Jennifer said...

I so love bike racing! I love that Sweet inside line in the first pic. Nice job with such great improvement Patrick!

Kovas said...

We used to have the national criterium championship here until the wise fools of our village council decided to save a few cents by withdrawing sponsorship. Bicycle racing is great fun to watch, now I have the itch to try it myself. You and Craig are inspirational for jumping into this.

Caratunk Girl said...

That is so awesome!! I am terrified of crits, but would love to watch one. Good for you for jumping into this and going for it.

Christi said...

I have to agree with Mandy. I am terrified of riding in a peloton at high rates of speed!

misszippy said...

You are a stud (see, still sucking up). Crits are scary--did a few years ago and knew I didn't have the kahunas for it!

P said...

Wow, your average speed is my normal top speed and your top speed is crazy fast!! I'm so impressed, and glad that you're having so much fun with these races!

Tri4Success said...

Love reading these crit recaps, even if they do make my legs hurt!

Chris said...

Congrats on a great race! I don't bike so it's all new to me, but it sure sounds exciting!

Patrick Mahoney said...

P - believe me my average speed under normal circumstances isn't close to that, especially when I'm riding alone

T4S - Glad you like them, they are fun to write

Misszippy - Thank you. can't say I don't enjoy the compliments

Kovas - PLEASE come out, would love to ride with you.

CG/Christi - Riding with people that have good bike handling skills improves yours (not that I'm saying you already don't) so you'd be fine.

The Jennifers and Chris - Thank you!

The Green Girl said...

Wow, that does sound like a lot of fun. Congratulations on keeping up - and getting in front like you did!

Chris K said...

Very manly. That sounds intense. I don't think I've ever seen you write "extremely awesome" before. I wonder if you liked it so much you smiled in a picture. Maybe.

Austin said...

Dude, that sounds like so much fun. Way better than starting and stopping intervals by yourself...And thanks for the strava link.

TRI714 said...

:-) I like it !

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

That sounds just awesome dude. Thanks for the detailed description because it put us in the saddle with you! Soooo need to do a few of these this summer. There is a series in Memorial Park, I need to look into this!

JohnP said...

This sounds like so much fun! Ohhhh I can't wait to try one of these one day! I want in on this!!

Sounds painful at the same time lol. I can go long, not fast.

Getting caught out in no-mans land sucks but you probably did the right thing to fall back to the pelton, even though it wasnt a concious decision lol :)

Petraruns said...

Sounds fun - and scary? are you not afraid to fall and have everyone fall on top of you? And WOW - you are going FAST there. It sounds really exciting!

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